First Time

Climbing can be a great equalizer, assuming the playing field is level. I’m certainly no 5.13 hardman, or even a 5.10 regular but I enjoy a challenge on the rock just the same. My daughter and I had the chance to get out for the first time this fall. She’s six, and has taken to the climbing towers at the local festivals, and has had some fun in the climbing gyms with kids her age as well. I wondered how she would take to being on a rope on the real thing for the first time.


We headed to Moab with some family for a dad and daughter weekend, it would also be her first time camping out in the tent, and not a trailer. We hooked up with the fine folks at Moab Cliffs and Canyons, with proprietor and lead guide Brett Sutter to set us up on the Ice Cream Parlor, a friendly sport pitch down Kane Creek Road. Stella took right to it, moving up the wall with ease, and wanting to go again and again. The little hands and toes fit nicely into the small holds, that I found my fat hands and feet having a tougher time finding purchase.


She nor her slightly older cousins didn’t want to stop, but they had to get back to SLC and me and Stella had to set up camp in some blustery and partly rainy conditions and hunker down for the night. As long as there was a fire, marshmallows and hot chocolate, she was going to be fine.



The wind howled, the temps dipped below freezing, but a few down bags and a hat on the head made for a comfortable evening on the exposed plateau near Island in the Sky.


We rode mountain bikes around the next morning, then headed for the views at Dead Horse Point State Park (why do they call it that daddy???). Then it was off to Arches for some of the greatest hits, a total of four hikes to various famous spans.


That night was  a fancy affair at the Red Cliffs Lodge, where dozens of skydivers participating in a local jump festival came to earth just as we were heading to dinner.

The next day we were up early and heading a bit to the east to the Hauer Ranch for a ride on their horses. I don’t believe I am the only person who has a six year old daughter for whom riding horses is the “best thing ever.” This was going to be the highlight for her. A loose tooth put damper on her enthusiasm, as it was literally hanging out of her mouth. It was definitely the topic of the ride. Sena Hauer guided us down to the Colorado, and then up Onion Creek which had sustained some serious debris flows from big rains this fall. The views of the Fisher Towers were stunning, as was the surrounding countryside, all the way to Castleton Tower and beyond. The horses had some attitude, this was no ‘nose-to-ass’ horse train in single file.


Heading home, with a burger and a beer (for me) in Green River. Stella finally pulled the tooth out, elated. Now the tooth fairy would be coming for a visit tonight. What a perfect way to end her weekend.

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